I’m One: Jujie Luan

jujiejuan.jpgWin Olympic gold, and your country loves you forever. Jujie Luan won China’s first fencing medal (in women’s foil) at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Last year, Chinese fans hailed her as a star at the Beijing Olympics where she fenced for Canada.

“Go try,” her husband had coaxed. “You already won gold. There’s nothing to lose.” She’d competed for China in Seoul in the 1988 Olympics and for Canada in Sydney in 2000, By 2007, her international ranking had elapsed. Qualifying for the Games became a 15-month grind of competing all over the world, with two months in Europe away from her husband, three children and coaching job in Edmonton.

“I work with the kids all day,” she says. “It keeps you young.” But busy — in the 20 years Luan has been head coach, the Edmonton Fencing Club has become one of the largest fencing clubs in the West.

“I love this sport,” she says. “I’ve been doing it for 36 years. It’s good for your brain and it’s really fun. I don’t know if it keeps the body young or [just] looking young — but nobody guesses my age.” Luan adds, “When I put on my mask, I’m the same age as everybody else. My moves are fast — nobody believes I’m 51.”

–Jayne MacAulay